Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PORTSMOUTH — When Notre Dame’s Cassie Schaefer took her first steps onto a softball diamond, she started to fall in love with the game.
At that time, there wasn’t a pitcher to face. She had to hit the ball off a tee.
Since, she’s become a pitcher, and one most batters don’t want to face.
Schaefer’s love affair with softball will continue at the next level as well, and close to home. She signed to play with Shawnee State University, Tuesday afternoon.
“Shawnee State basically runs in our family. My parents went there, my sister goes there, and I’ve had plenty of aunts, uncles, and cousins go there,” Schaefer said. “Also, it’s close to home, and since I’ll be playing softball there, I’ll be able to have the support of friends and family around me. Plus, they are one of the few schools in the state of Ohio that has an Occupational Therapy Program, and that is what I hope to get a degree in.”
Schaefer has also been a standout volleyball player at Notre Dame, earning All-Ohio status and totaling over 2,000 career assists as the team’s setter.
But, as mentioned, softball won her heart a long time ago.
“I’ve played softball since I was in T-ball and it’s been my favorite sport ever since,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to play softball in college because it’s something I love to do and I can’t imagine this year being my last year.”
Shawnee State wasn’t the only program calling for Schaefer’s services. She had many offers to sift through, and for good reason.
As a junior last season, Schaefer finished 16-3 in the circle alongside a 0.72 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 116 ⅓ innings of work.
“The recruiting process was definitely stressful at some points of my career. My family, coaches, and teammates helped me a lot in getting through it,” she said. “They always pushed me to be the best that I can be and constantly reassured me that whatever I chose to do, or wherever I chose to go, they would support me one-hundred percent.”
With the college decision behind her, she can now focus on business at hand.
With one year left as a Titan, Schaefer … and most of her teammates … return to a program that went 22-3 last season while making an appearance in a Division IV regional semifinal.
Schaefer also plays basketball, where the Titans are coming off a Division IV district final loss.
“I hope to make the best out of the rest of my senior year, both on the court and on the field. This is my final chance to get out there and push to keep bringing success and the winning tradition to Notre Dame,” she said. “On the diamond, our goals are as big as ever and I’m hoping that I can help lead my team further than where we ended last year. I want to be a part of something our softball program has never done before, which is playing in Akron and hopefully coming back with a state championship.”